LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Philanthropist and former investment banker Austin Beutner was named superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, officials announced Tuesday.
Despite concerns regarding his lack of experience working in the education field, Beutner, 58, was selected on a 5-2 vote by the LAUSD Board of Education to lead the country’s second-largest school district.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti released a statement on Twitter following the board’s announcement.
“I congratulate Austin Beutner on his appointment as LAUSD superintendent,” Garcetti’s said, “and look forward to supporting his work to transform young lives and help all of our students achieve their dreams through public education.”
Vivian Ekchian has been serving as interim superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District since the departure of Michelle King, who went on medical leave in September and announced in January she had cancer and would not be returning to work.
Prior to Tuesday’s announcement, the board received criticism from a number of people as well as a representative for United Teachers Los Angeles, who spoke out against the choice of Beutner saying the 58-year-old has no experience managing a school or a school district.
Beutner and Ekchian were the final two candidates standing in a competition that was initially narrowed to four people.
In 2010 he served as deputy mayor to then Mayor Antonio Villaraigossa and in 2014 took over as publisher and CEO of the Los Angeles Times but was fired a year later.
The new superintendent also made a run for mayor in 2012 when Villaraigosa termed out, but his campaign never caught on and he dropped out early.
Beutner also served on the L.A. Unified Advisory Task Force created under King to help meet goals in the district’s strategic plan and “to foster a culture of change in which we identify opportunities and embrace solutions to close the achievement gap.”
Beutner’s first day on the job as superintendent will be May 14.
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